New York: Violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims in Leicester were the result of outsiders coming to the city and inflaming existing tensions, community leaders have said, Daily Mail reported.
Over the weekend, police made 47 arrests after clashes between large groups of mostly young men in the east part of the city, as tensions boiled over following a recent cricket match between India and Pakistan.
But the people of Leicester say the relationship between the two communities has been strained for months and has been inflamed by the misinformation being spread online and outsiders who have traveled to the city from nearby areas such as Birmingham, Daily Mail reported.
Police officers were diverted from the Queen’s funeral preparations in London to deal with the most recent unrest which erupted last weekend.
So far, one man from Leicester has been jailed for his role in the incident but police have confirmed that a number of those arrested were from outside the city.
Amos Noronha, 20, was sentenced to 10 months in prison after pleading guilty to possession of an offensive weapon in connection with the violence but no further details of his crime were released.
Noronha was one of 47 people arrested across the weekend after the clashes which resulted in 16 officers being injured, Daily Mail reported.
Those arrested stand accused of an array of offenses including affray, assault, possession of weapons, and violent disorder.
Dharmesh Lakhani, who has lived in the city for more than 50 years and works with local mosques, says he feels it was outside influences that inflamed the situation.
He told BBC R4’s Today program: “It’s been brewing slowly, slowly, slowly, and what happened at cricket acted as a trigger. Now my personal feeling is that if it was just people from Leicester, things would have calmed down.”
Hindus, Muslim read out peace message
Days after the violent clashes, leaders of the Hindu and Muslim communities in the city issued a joint statement appealing for harmony. Calling for an immediate cessation of violence, the community leaders demanded that “inciters of hatred” leave the city alone.
President of Leicester’s ISKCON temple Pradyumna Das read out the joint statement outside a mosque.
“This is a statement of unity between the Hindu and Muslim community. We, the family of Leicester stand in front of you, not only as Hindus and Muslims but as brothers and sisters. Our two faiths have lived harmoniously in this wonderful city for over half a century. We arrived in this city together. We faced the same challenges together.
Das said the recent violence and attacks on individuals were heartbreaking for the entire community and not part of their faiths.
“We fought our racist haters together, and collectively made this city a beacon of diversity. That is why, today, we are saddened and heartbroken to see the eruption of tension and violence, physical attacks on innocent individuals, and unwarranted damage to property are not a part of a decent society, and indeed, not part of our faiths. What we have seen is not what we are about.”
“Our message to anyone that sows disharmony between us is clear: we will not let you succeed,” he said.